The Long-serving director of law and administration at Hertfordshire County Council, Bill Church, has moved on to a higher calling – the Church of England.

Church, who has been with Hertfordshire since 1979 and a local government solicitor for 29 years, left his position last month to train for ordination.

He retains some contact with the county, dividing his time between a position as Police Authority deputy clerk and his religious studies.

Church says it was simply time for a change from a local government legal profession that has altered significantly since he entered it.

"It has become immensely more rigorous, and a great deal more is expected," he said.

Church, a former president of the Hertfordshire Law Society, said local government lawyers were becoming more specialised and focusing on areas such as child care litigation.

"There are more people who see their careers strictly as lawyers involved in the local government service," he added.

Andrew Laycock, another long-serving council solicitor, who joined Hertfordshire in 1974, has been appointed to replace Church.